An exciting area of modern science is exploring the connection between the gut microbiome and mental health. It so happens the brain and gut are intimately connected by a bi-directional communication pathway that has been dubbed the gut-brain axis.
There’s plenty of evidence that stress and violence will negatively affect one’s microbiome, mood, immunity and bodily functions.
According to Ayurveda, 85%-99% of health concerns originate as digestive imbalance - "manda agni"
The collective of micro-organisms that dominate the human body, the microbiome, play a very large role in gut health, mental health, and basically all biological functions.
We are 90% bugs. Most of the cells in our body are microbial.
We need to get more familiar with the microbes that dominate our gut.
About Kirben Govender
Kriben Govender, is a Food Scientist, Registered Nutritionist and Founder of Nourishme Organics, a company specialising in Gut Health and Mitochondrial health-focused products and Allele Microbiome – a provider of cutting edge Metagenomic Stool Testing and Deuterium Testing.
With more than 20 years of Food industry experience in the field of Research and Development, Quality Assurance and Procurement, Kriben intimately understands the food supply chain and the interaction between diet and the gut microbiome. He has personally visited more than 100 food processing sites across the world. Kriben is an expert in the art of making fermented foods like Kefir, Kombucha and fermented vegetable etc and was a Judge in the 2019 RASV Australia Food Awards.
He is the host of one of Australia's leading Nutrition Podcasts - The Gut Health Gurus Podcast where he frequently interviews health experts from around the world.
In This Episode We Discuss
Kriben’s current anxiety and gut issues that are manifesting in the stressful times of COVID-19.
Kriben’s struggle with anxiety and depression
Then corporate work further exacerbating his stress.
Taking a nuclear anti-biotic that altered the composition of his gut microbiome and changed his mental health overnight.
He was suicidal and ready to end his life, then learned about the relationship between mental health and the gut microbiome through the gut-brain axis.
What is the Microbiome
The collective of microbiome - Bacteria, yeast, viruses parasites.
The gut-brain axis is a bi-directional communication pathway.
- Most of the communication is going from gut to brain via the vegas nerve into the brain.
- Stress can alter the micro-organisms in the gut.
There is no such thing as a good and bad parasite or virus. It is all about harmony and balance.
Some when out of balance can create disease.
The Important Purpose of Viruses in Nature
- They are the only things that can quickly change our genome.
- COVID-19 in problematic because it is novel - we have never been exposed to it and have not developed herd immunity to it.
- Viruses are natures
- Scientists have been using Corona viruses to implement gene therapy protocols for many years.
GABA in the Gut
- Gamma-Aminobutyric acid - an amino acid produced by the brain.
- Chief inhibitory neurotransmitter.
- Reducing neuronal excitability - relaxation, reduces stress, increases calm, balances mood, alleviates pain and helps with sleep. - “The brakes of the brain.”
- Responsible for the regulation of muscle tone.
- Food sources - Kefir, yoghurt, whole grain, walnuts, almonds, citrus, berries, spinach, broccoli.
A study showed 95% of serotonin production occurs in the gut.
5-hydroxytryptamine receptors or 5-HT receptors, or serotonin receptors are derived from the gut.
Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) inhibits 5-HT re-uptake (reabsorption of the neurotransmitter - important because it allows for recycling of neurotransmitters and how their release lasts).
Responsible for cognitive functions such as decision making, attention, memory, motivation, and reward.
A study showed how Dopamine is produced in the gut by showing a "considerable urinary excretion of dopamine metabolites indicates that large amounts of dopamine are produced in unknown locations of the body."
Microbes affect how people metabolise these compounds, regulating the amount that circulates in the blood and brain.
Enteric Nervous System
- Second brain. Located in the gut. A nervous system the size of a cats brain. All your nerve plexuses end in your gut.
- Modulated peristalsis, going to the toilet.
- Everything starts from umbilicus.
Butyrate / Butyric Acid and Leaky Gut
- From butyric acid - a health beneficial short chain fatty acid.
- It got its name from the latin word for butter, butyrum.
- Your gut bacteria produces butyrate from prebiotic fibres in plant foods. Specifically clostridium butyricum.
- While is was first discovered in butter, ghee is the highest source of this superfood.
- Reduces anxiety and depression. Provides neuro-protective effects.
- Helps digestion by maintaining integrity of the GI mucosa and gut lining.
- Can plug a leaky gut.
- Intestinal permeability - in a healthy barrier, tight functions are relaxed allowing water and nutrients to pass through.
- It is the main energy source for colonocytes, the cells which make up your gut lining. - Unlike other cells in the body which use glucose (sugar) as the main energy source.
- Colonocytes help provide an oxygen-free environment in which beneficial gut microbes thrive.
- Inhibits growth of unwanted bacteria in the gut and interfered with the growth of toxic bacteria.
- Encourages growth of the beneficial bacteria like Bifidobacterirum.
- Supports and regulates healthy bowel motions.
- Supports the health of intestinal mucosa during inflammatory bowel conditions.
- Supports health cholesterol.
- Increases cellular energy production.
- Reduction in fatty tissue and hunger levels.
Triggers for leaky gut
- Elevated blood glucose levels which can come from processed foods and sugars.
Improve tight junctions in the gut lining
Flavanoids (fresh fruits), omega 3 fatty acids, sea-weed, glutamine (fermented veggies, broccoli, bone broth collagen peptides), sulforafan (broccoli and broccoli sprouts), vitamin D (sun), Vitamin A (cod liver oil, sardines), Zinc (oysters), Butyrate, sulforaphane, some probiotics (MegaSporeBiotic), and Kefir.
- Light signalling.
- Reduce artificial blue light, especially after sunset, since that increases cortisol and reduces melatonin.
- Use blue light blocking glasses. Both Kriben and I recommend RA optics (discount code: VITALVEDA)
- Download iris tech to shield your computer screen from blue light.
- Your digest fire (agni) is resulted by the sun. Have a good lunch and light dinner.
- The light hitting your skin while you eat has an effect on digestion. - Beware of the light your are eating under - eat under natural light, and not under artificial light. This particularly effect blood glucose.
General Principles for Eating:
- Whole foods, avoid packaged foods.
- Fresh foods. Avoid left overs.
- Eat local foods. Foods that are grown and sourced locally.
- Relax and eat.
- Countless health benefits.
- Two types: Milk Kefir and Water Kefit (vegan).
- How to Make: Simply add 1tsp of kefir grains into a glass of 250ml milk, leave for 24 hours and strain. Then pass the yoghurt through a sieve, and keep the kefir grains for next time.
- What are Kefir grains - symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. Scientists can’t replicate the grains in labs. People replicate and share the grain amongst each other.
- They replicate. Kriben hypothesises they found the the kefir grains in a stomach (biofilm) of a goat. Water kefir grains come from a type of cactus.
- Around 15 strains of bacteria in water kefir.
Microbes are sensitive to Sattva (pure state of mind and consciousness)
- There’s plenty of evidence that stress and violence will negatively affect one’s microbiome, mood, immunity and bodily functions.
- Sattvic bugs. - sattvic lifestyle.
- Spiritual people.
- We are 90% bugs. Our consciousness impacts that.
- Very emerging science, funnily enough, a key Ayurvedic recommendation for health and to balance vata.
- Consistent and regular waking times, sleeping times, light exposure, eating times, bowel motions.
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Please seek advice from a qualified practitioner before starting any new health practice.